By Brian Thomas
When I approached PYGmalion’s Weyward Sisters at Rose Wagner Center for the Performing Arts, I was admittedly a little intimidated. Based off of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, I wasn’t sure I was prepared. While I have a degree in English, I managed to do so while avoiding Shakespeare at all cost throughout my duration in the English program, reading only Hamlet. I was worried that I wouldn’t be caught up enough on my reading of Shakespeare to catch all of the references in this play. Nevertheless, I settled in, and watched Pygmalion’s Weyward Sisters. What ensured was a thoroughly enjoyable and enchanting experience.
The story, by LL West, is about three witches hired to perform the premiere of Macbeth. The setting appears to be a tent backstage at The Globe Theatre adorned by Set Designer Thomas George with the accoutrements of gypsies. These Weyward sisters enjoy a bit of a rivalry amongst each other, not only in their possession of magic, but also in their acting chops. Leandra (Betsy West) and Fioon (Tamara Howell) challenge each other’s skills with a series of invectives and insults, mediated by Skye(Ali Lente). The ripostes are delayed when the witches are called onstage for a moment in Macbeth. Between acts of Macbeth, the witches come back to their tent. In one of these intermediary moments, the witches break a cardinal sin of theatre: mentioning the name “Macbeth” offstage. (For those who don’t know—we’re supposed to say The Scottish Play or it’s bad luck.) This sets off a series of events that forces the witches to use their magic to change the events of history.
The dialogue and the delivery are the real standouts in this play. Fast-paced and clever, the dialogue is filled with alliterations and Shakespearean puns, deftly delivered by West and Howell. In delivery, the actors took liberal use of the stage, a wonderful directorial by Jeremy Chase. Navigation around the space was fluid and engaging. The rivalry between West’s and Howell’s characters is palpable, but Lente does well to balance the spirited rivalry between Leandra and Fioon. The overlapping dialogue urges the attention of the audience, and the audience is well-rewarded for it. Director Chase harnesses his cast to create a rich, funny, concise production.
Unfamiliar with Macbeth? Don’t fret. A synopsis detailing the plot of Macbeth is delivered as a prologue before the play begins by Barb Gandy and Natalie Geezer, detailing all of the major plot points. This prologue relieved any tension that I had about my unfamiliarity with Shakespeare.
The Weyward Sisters follows the tradition of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard. That is, exploring canonical works and asking the audience to consider the minor characters. How do these characters have a life of their own, outside of their brief time on stage? How do they have their own stories and dramas? Exploration of these characters is fascinating, adding humor to the original grim story the Shakespeare’s tragedy tells, ultimately enhancing the original play. Overall, The Weyward Sisters is fascinating, clever, and captivating. Whether you love or despise Shakespeare, this play will enchant you.
PYGmalion Theatre Company presents The Weyward Sisters by LL West
November 3–18, 2017, 7:30 PM
Leona Wagner Black Box, Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W 300 S,
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84101
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